Refrigerator Games

Recently, I wrote this post about how I’d started labeling our leftovers so we wouldn’t forget about them and shove them to the back of the refrigerator, where they’d turn into a science experiment on their way to the trash.

I’ve been inspired by Jonathan Bloom and his Wasted Food blog to do my small part to reduce our food waste. Our latest fun and games has been very successful.

I’ve labelled one section of the refrigerator “Eat Me!” That’s the food that needs to be eaten within the next few days or it will get thrown out. And it’s working! Like a lot of things in life, I think the key to making sure you don’t throw out a lot of food is FOCUS.

Besides labeling leftovers and designating a section of the refrigerator to items that need to be eaten immediately, what’s also helping is buying LESS food in the first place. When we have too much food, we lose track of what we have and it ends up getting thrown out. For example, I like having a well-stocked pantry, but if it’s too full and I forget about the pancake mix, the moths might get to it. And then it’s trash.

Jonathan Bloom’s focus is entirely on food waste, but there are a lot of other bloggers writing about food waste as a part of being frugal and being green. The Non-Consumer Advocate has a Waste-No-Food Challenge and The Frugal Girl writes a weekly post about how much (or little) food she wasted that week.

Wasting less food not only saves money, it’s a small step toward saving the planet. Food waste is a HUGE contributor to greenhouse gases. You can read all about it at Wasted Food.

Please share your fun and games, strategies, and tips for wasting less food in the Comments section. We’d all love to hear them… Who doesn’t want to save money and save the planet at the same time?


  1. Kristen@TheFrugalGirl says

    That’s a fun idea!

    I try to keep my about-to-go-bad food near the front of my fridge too. Out of sight, out of mind, you know, and then it gets wasted.

  2. Meg says

    I don’t have a designated spot, but I do rotate foods around in the fridge just sort of as a habit and that seems to help. If something is in the door or a drawer and needs to be eaten soon, I’ll put that where it’s easier to notice.

    Because we’re trying to waste less, my husband and I have been buying less and less food — and haven’t starved yet, I might add. Therefore we don’t usually have a lot in the fridge or freezer and we don’t lose food in the fridge like some people I know.

  3. Angela says

    Kristen and Meg-
    Thanks for coming by!
    Yes, it has worked in the past to keep things that needed to be eaten right away toward the front and in sight. This worked even better because my husband makes a lot of his own meals and is very “trainable” so he immediately goes to this spot now for his lunches.

  4. alunachic says

    Hey Angela!! Drunk Dialing Williams Sonoma!! I thought i would fall out of my office chair laughing….

    I really dig the EAT ME label in the refrigerator. Now that is SMART!

    Today i cleaned out the refrigerator and make a killer chili with black beans, tomatoes, left over veggies and some dying but not dead spinach. It was delicious!

  5. Anonymous says

    Aloha and Happy Birthday!
    Your birthday is on the same day as My sister Jennifer’s oldest son.His name is Jason.
    Here in Hawaii we are VERY bug conscious since they seem to be everywhere.I put all powdery foods like pancake mix, flour etc in zip lock baggies and cut the label off and put it in the bag so I know what it is.Then I store in the freezer or fridge.It keeps alot longer and I know it’s bug free.
    We do this with pasta also.

  6. Anonymous says

    I am such a horrible food waster that it kills me. I live in a town in a fly over zone and every time I get to a Trader Joe’s (which is about once every 3 months) I go crazy with the dry goods like pancake mix, cereal, pita chips(!). I literally fill my car with groceries. And then I can’t get to it before it all gets bad. Someone help me!

  7. WilliamB says

    Trader Joe’s Anonymous:

    What do you buy at TJ’s that goes bad? Dry goods should last pretty much forever. If nothing else, put everything in a bug-proof container or bag.

    Next time, keep your receipt. This will tell you much you bought. Tape it to your pantry door. Use it to keep track of what you eat OR what you ditch (whichever is easier for you). Let this be your guide for how much to buy next time you go to TJ’s.

  8. dippidy says

    williamb….I LOVE the idea of using the receipt to know what you have! I don't think that ever would have occurred to me. Thanks for the tip!


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